Vegans Eating Chocolate – Yes or No?
The answer is certainly YES! Vegans can eat chocolate and it is easily available almost everywhere.
People who have turned themselves into a vegetarian or as they say have gone vegan’, are often confused when it comes to chocolate. They keep asking questions or ask questions like “can vegetarians eat chocolate” or “can vegans eat chocolate”.
It is frustrating when you do not know the answer to the question and more frustrating if you are truly a chocolate lover. If you are someone who simply cannot function without a chocolate a day, then it’s good news for you!
Chocolate is vegan because it is derived from a tree. To be precise, chocolate is obtained from the pod of the cocoa tree. And hence, it is completely VEGAN!
What is a Vegan Chocolate?
A bar of vegan chocolate is a chocolate that is made of non-vegan ingredients. If you are a fan of chocolate, before consuming any chocolate product, look for the ingredients that were used to prepare the chocolate. Typically, a chocolate cube or a chocolate bar contained sugar, chocolate liquor, vanilla, and cocoa butter.
The cocoa butter used to make the chocolate is completely vegan, made naturally from the fat of cocoa. If your chocolate has fewer ingredients in it, it makes your vegan chocolate more delicious.
The question of whether chocolate is vegan becomes complicated when you begin to wonder about the process or the ingredients that were used to make that chocolate, whether the products used to make chocolate is plant-based or animal-based. Read the information given below to have better knowledge about Vegan Chocolate.
Chocolate may be both Vegan and Non-Vegan!
Check for Additional Ingredients!
We have already established and learned the fact that chocolate, in its raw form, is naturally a vegan product.
However, not all chocolate products are vegan. It is not the chocolate that causes the problem to a vegan. Usually, chocolate comes with other ingredients in it. And that’s what you should be concerned about. There are a variety of products that are added to it and they may include dairy products. Dairy products as you know, are not vegan as they come from animals. This makes chocolate products unacceptable for consumption if you are a vegan.
If your chocolate product has dairy in it, then it definitely becomes a non-vegan product. Be careful and check the list of ingredients before buying it. If your chocolate is dairy-free then you are good to go!
Plant-based ingredients make your product vegan and instead of milk, you may use any plant-based substitutes like coconut milk, almond milk, cashew milk, etc. that give your chocolate a creamy and delicious taste just like a bar of non-vegan chocolate. The plant-based milk is also known as “mylk” nowadays since it is an alternative to “milk”.
When chocolate was first invented and created, in South America, almost 3,000 years ago, chocolate did not contain any non-vegan dairy milk. It was later added to chocolate and that is what we eat nowadays. In 1875, it was the first time when milk was added to chocolate and the new concept of milk chocolate emerged.
So next time if anyone asks you whether a vegan can eat chocolates, you will have loads of knowledge that you can share with them and enjoy it with a pack of vegan-friendly, gluten-free, dairy-free chocolate bars.
Variety of Vegan Chocolates You Can Get
With various kinds of veganism comes various types of chocolates from which you can choose. Ranging from high-quality chocolate to low-quality chocolate, from super dark chocolate to dark or light chocolate. It all depends on the cacao content in the product.
You can enjoy every variety depending on what per cent of cacao content you like. Typically, you should have chocolate that contains 50% or more cacao content.
If only-chocolate becomes boring to you, you can enjoy it with dried fruit or mint or almonds, as these also fall under the vegan-friendly food. You must avoid peanut butter, toffee filled chocolates and caramel as they typically contain dairy, unless it is mentioned as a vegan.
In the market, you will get cacao nibs, cacao powder, cacao seeds, and cacao butter. These are the four most versatile and popular cacao products which are not only vegan-friendly but also gluten-free.
Is Cacao the same as Cocoa?
We often get confused with the terms Cacao and Cocoa. Do not confuse Cacao with Cocoa because they are not the same. People often use these names synonymously but if you are knowledgeable and a true chocolate lover, you should know that they do not mean the same.
Both cacao and cocoa are indeed derived from fermented, dried cacao seeds. The main point of difference between cacao and cocoa is that cacao product is obtained from raw cacao seeds whereas cocoa products are obtained from roasted cacao seeds. This makes a huge difference in the composition of the two products.
Benefits of Cacao
If your chocolate mentions a higher percentage of cacao content, it means you are consuming a healthier, purer, and chocolatier product. Raw cacao if consumed properly is full of minerals and has got many health benefits.
Magnesium – Magnesium is a mineral that is important for the nervous system, healthy energy production, and also for the brain. Magnesium is also good for the muscles and strong teeth and bones. Raw cacao has magnesium in it and it helps in maintaining blood pressure. It is recommended by many doctors that consumption of a cube of chocolate a day is good for health.
Antioxidants – Raw cacao contains a significant amount of antioxidants in it. Antioxidants are for health as they act as neutralizers of the free radicals in our body, which can cause several diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart cancer. Cacao contains flavonoids in high amounts. These are antioxidants that lower blood pressure, improves the vascular function of the heart, increases the “good cholesterol” (HDL).
PEA – Over and above all the above-mentioned minerals, cacao has another compound names phenylethylamine, abbreviated as PEA which can support energy, elevate mood, and is the main reason why people love to have chocolate.
Avoid These to Extract More Benefits from Chocolate
Studies have stated that if you have chocolate that includes milk in it, especially animal-milk, then, it may tend to block the benefits that come from the consumption of chocolate. Essentially, milk can absorb the antioxidants present in chocolate or cacao.
Another study compared the absorption of antioxidants in the case of dark chocolate and milk chocolate. It was found in the study that the milk present in the milk chocolate lessened the amount of antioxidant in the chocolate almost by 50 per cent.
Another similar study measured the effect on the antioxidant levels in the blood after the consumption of milk chocolate and dark chocolate. Results showed that people who ate dark chocolate experienced a rise in the level of antioxidants whereas people who ate milk chocolate experienced no such significant change in the level of antioxidants.
Being a vegan, you need to be extremely alert before buying or consuming packaged products. You need to be aware of the things that are vegan-friendly. Educating yourself is very essential otherwise the whole purpose of contributing to veganism becomes futile.
Many people, as well as the chocolate manufacturers, do not segregate the dairy products from the non-dairy product. This means that there is a high chance you are consuming chocolates that are contaminated with dairy or animal milk.
While shopping for chocolates and other products, make sure that they are properly labeled, mentioning or segregating the animal-based products and the plant-based products.
The high-end brands that manufacture chocolates are always a safe option as they go an extra step to make sure that the vegan products are mentioned and used separately from the dairy products.
Benefits of having plant-based milk – Plant-based milk or Mylk or non-dairy milk typically comes from the plants, such as soy milk, milk from nuts, almond milk, seeds milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, etc. These are very popular and you will probably get them in every store.
Plant-based milk has several health benefits. It is cruelty-free, which means it doesn’t come from any animal, and hence, no animal is harmed to make this milk. Those who suffer from the problem of lactose intolerance, this is good news for them.
Plant-based milk is naturally free of lactose. 65% of the population who suffer from this problem of lactose-intolerance can switch to the consumption of plant-based milk. These substitutes are healthier as they contain generous amounts of vitamin D, protein, and calcium in it.
Switching your consumption from dairy products to non-dairy products also means that the environment will benefit. The dairy industry uses tons of water, approximately 976 gallons to produce only one gallon of milk. Also, the dairy industry poses as a huge disaster to the ecosystem. To farm and graze cows, 83 per cent of the global agricultural land is used and this results in deforestation.